Cool, sustainable, feature-rich polyurethane foam sought after in mattress market
Manufacturers say they have added foam and will soon introduce more to help mattress makers stand out from the competition and strengthen their mattress offerings at higher price points. While consumer demand for mattresses has fallen, polyurethane foam producers have not slowed down their efforts to develop innovative products for mattress makers.
"Customers are looking for products and solutions that provide them with some added value," said Chris Bradley, executive vice president of consumer products at NCFI Polyurethanes, headquartered in Avery Hill, North Carolina. "Whether it's cost reduction or tangible benefits like cooling effects, Customers are looking for an edge.”
He added that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought more attention to products that offer health benefits.
“Buyers are also looking for healthy selling points, given the last two and a half years,” said Chris Bradley. “As a result, we are seeing an increase in products containing copper, graphite and other additives. Several studies have shown that copper and graphite can provide Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits that consumers are seeking. As the overall economy slows, products that differentiate themselves will grow, and our goal is to help provide these solutions to our customers Program."
NCFI is investing heavily in research and development and is analyzing new feedstocks that could reduce costs or improve performance, he said.
"We have several new foam materials that were introduced at the Las Vegas Summer Furniture Show, and others will be unveiled earlier this year," said Chris Bradley. "At NCFI, our focus has always been driven by innovation and quality. Driven growth, that won't change as we prepare for a continued reduction in demand."
NCFI's latest offering is its CoolRest line of high-performance foams. CoolRest Hybrid combines the properties of memory foam and high-resilience foam to provide stress relief, but sleepers don't sink into the foam. CoolRest Breeze is a high airflow foam designed to provide pressure relief and maximum cooling properties. CoolRest Bounce is a latex-like polyurethane foam with high resilience properties.
Customers are looking for features that support high-end products, said Brent Limer, chief sales officer at Latexco, a Lavonia, Georgia, maker of polyurethane and latex foam. Customers want "value-added, innovative products that can be used in higher retail-priced mattress manufacturing," he noted. There is also demand for products that offer temperature regulation, especially those with cooling, he said.
Latexco makes a line of specialty polyurethane foams that are used in those higher-priced mattresses, Brent Limer said. The company plans to continue to focus on innovative products as a value proposition for its customers, especially in the premium segment.
The latest polyurethane foam that Latexco showed at ISPA EXPO earlier this year is Snofom. Of all its polyurethane foams, Snofom has the best airflow through, which promotes cooler sleep, the company says.
At Future Foam, customers are always looking for efficient cooling and sustainable materials. For cooling foam, Future Foam offers its Allay product with high airflow, and its Future Gel with Therminium line of topical gels containing phase change materials. Both products visibly help mattresses stay cool, the company says. Sustain foam is a new generation of foam made from plant-based polyols.
Mike Urquhart, National Account Manager at Future Foam, said: “We are working with our customers to help them sell products faster and drive sales. Future Foam is also using this time to perfect our Allay and Sustain materials products and processes. We We believe these products will help Future Foam and our customers achieve long-term growth."
“Our customers are looking for value, innovation and sustainability,” said Mike McQuiston, vice president of bedding at Carpente. “They want to take advantage of these characteristics and develop their sales and marketing plans to better enhance their brand. Carpenter is fully equipped to The ability to help its clients do just that.”
He said: "No bubble company in our industry has an upstream vertically integrated and R&D team like Carpenter. We've put our assets to work and bring more innovation to the market. We just launched Our new Performance Core Hybrid range and developed new comfort foams to meet key price points. We are also excited about our new Hybrid Foam technology, which will be available by the end of 2022.”
The Prospect of Polyurethane Foam
Polyurethane foam producers say the mattress market is challenging right now, with falling consumer demand and huge inflationary pressures taking a toll.
But on the bright side, the bubble supply chain has stabilized and there should be enough bubbles to meet industry demand next year, they said.
NCFI's Chris Bradley said: "We believe the market will soften in late 2022 and 2023 due to lower consumer demand for bedding and furniture. While the overall supply chain for foam raw materials has stabilized, we still see some exceptional The material remains unstable. Absent another catastrophic event, North American urethane foam capacity will not be an issue in 2023 and beyond.”
Mike McQuiston of Carpenter has a similar view. "The mattress market will remain very subdued for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. There are many factors driving inflation and they will continue to limit discretionary spending until next year," he said.
Mike Urquhart of Future Foam also expects a soft market for the rest of 2022.
"This is caused by two main factors," he said. "Demand for mattresses and upholstered furniture has fallen sharply, and these two markets are not expected to see a major recovery in demand in the coming months. The second, also likely to be The bigger issue is the demand destruction for polyurethane foam caused by unprecedented chemical (price) increases in 2020 and 2021. These price increases have caused many of our customers to use other materials such as polyester, where they used to use polyurethane Foam."
Latexco's Brent Limer also sees reduced demand.
He said: “Industry forecasts continue to point to slower growth in the future than we have had in the past two years. Inflation and energy costs are causing consumers to pick where they can afford to spend. Reduced demand will lead to bubble producers Find ways to use the raw materials on hand and grab market share.”
Brent Limer believes that polyurethane foam will make up the majority of the comfort layer in the manufacture of mattresses at the mid-to-low retail price point.